Blended vs Dedicated Stores: Choosing the Right Format for Your B2B Business

Trevor
Community Moderator

So, you've decided to take your wholesale eCommerce business to the next level with B2B on Shopify. But now you face a crucial decision: should you opt for a blended store or a dedicated store? Don't worry, we've got you covered with this comprehensive guide. Below, we'll define each of these store formats and provide key considerations to help you make an informed choice.

 

Blended Store

A blended store is a single store and admin that supports all of your customers, accepting both B2B (business-to-business) and DTC (direct-to-consumer) orders. It offers a unified storefront experience to manage all customer types and orders efficiently. With a blended store, you can streamline your back-end workflows and easily differentiate B2B orders, customers, and prices from DTC within the admin.

 

Dedicated Store

On the other hand, a dedicated store is a separate B2B-only expansion store created exclusively to cater to your wholesale business. It focuses solely on B2B operations, allowing you to provide a tailored experience for your wholesale customers without any distractions from DTC orders.

 

Flexibility in store format is one of the many benefits of B2B on Shopify, and the best format for your business depends on your specific needs and back-end workflows. There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for all merchants.

 

The decision of whether to go blended or dedicated is largely a one-way door, so it should be made with careful consideration. If you choose to reverse course and go with the other option, you will need to duplicate the work you’ve already completed to set up a B2B store with a different format. To help you decide which format suits you best, we'll break down the key considerations and the impact that blended or dedicated stores will have on you and your customers.

 

Key Considerations

 

Admin Management

 

The admin experience is a crucial distinction between the two store formats. In a blended store, you can manage all customers, orders, and prices from a single admin. A blended store typically leads to a more efficient back end experience, as all of your data is shared across B2B and DTC and there’s no need to duplicate any admin tasks across stores. In contrast, a dedicated store requires a separate admin solely for B2B customers due to its B2B-only nature. 

 

We have seen that some merchants prefer a separate admin experience for B2B and DTC. In some cases, merchants have separate teams that manage B2B compared to DTC or prefer to only focus on changes to one area of their business at time - both of which may make a merchant lean towards a dedicated store. 

 

Consider how you want to manage your store and whether one format aligns better with your business operations.

 

Store Branding 

 

In a blended store, branding remains the same for both B2B and DTC customers, including store theme, colors, and logos. Dedicated stores, on the other hand, offer the flexibility to customize branding just for your B2B customers. 

 

If you’d like to showcase different branding for different customer contexts, we’d recommend going with a dedicated store. However if you intend to keep your branding consistent across B2B and DTC, then implementing a blended store is an easy way to carry over your branding without spending additional time and resources on store setup. 

 

Store Content (e.g. promotional messages, graphics, layout) 

 

While most merchants prefer consistent branding, many want to contextualize the content shown to customers based on their purchase type. By default, store content is the same for DTC and B2B buyers within a blended store. However, with Shopify's store contextualization feature, you can tailor the buying experience to different customer types by surfacing relevant content.

 

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In a dedicated B2B-only store, you can use store contextualization in conjunction with Shopify Markets to tailor content for the different markets that you sell to.

 

Note: It is possible to contextualize content for both the customer context and market within a blended store using custom code. 

 

Inventory 

 

Inventory management plays a significant role in the decision to go blended or dedicated. In a blended store, inventory is shared across B2B and DTC orders and cannot be allocated based on customer context. In contrast, a dedicated store requires independent management of segmented inventory specific to your B2B store. 

 

Consider how your inventory is structured and whether it is shared or allocated based on customer context.

 

Checkout

 

When deciding between blended and dedicated stores, the checkout experience is not a concern. With Shopify Payment Functions, you can easily customize the payment and delivery options displayed to your B2B and DTC customers during checkout in a blended store, and you can use Checkout UI Extensions to customize checkout content shown to B2B vs. DTC buyers. Similarly, discounts in a blended store are not initially segmented by customer context, but you can restrict them to either B2B or DTC customers using discount segmentation. Additionally, in the near future (expected launch in Fall 2023), you will be able to offer complex, contextual discounts using Discount Functions for B2B.

 

On the other hand, in a dedicated store, payment and delivery options, as well as discounts, are automatically limited to B2B customers.

 

Analytics

 

Regardless of the store format you choose, Shopify provides comprehensive reports and analytics to help you understand your customers and monitor your business. In a blended store, reports combine data from both B2B and DTC customers, but you can filter by B2B in some reports. Filterable reports include most sales reports, profit margin reports, and “customers over time” within customer reports. In a dedicated store, all reports focus solely on your B2B orders.

 

Product Availability 

 

Both blended and dedicated stores allow you to customize product selections based on customer context. In a dedicated store, all products are exclusively available to B2B customers. In a blended store, you always have the option of making certain products available to B2B customers but not DTC, and vice versa. 

 

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Using Catalogs, you can exclude products from view from all or some of your B2B customers. Alternatively, you can mark a product as inactive within the Online Store to hide it from DTC customers, and it will still appear for B2B customers if it is included in an active Catalog. Catalogs override Online Store settings for B2B customers. 

 

Notifications

 

In a blended store, you can't segment the notifications received by B2B or DTC customers. For example, all customers will receive order notifications once they place an order, regardless of their buying context. However, you can customize the content of notifications based on the customer's context using liquid code. This means that the content of an order notification can differ for B2B or DTC customers and their purchases. 

 

On the other hand, in a dedicated store, notification customization is not a concern since all notifications are exclusively for B2B customers.

 

Customer Accounts & Access 

 

Customer accounts let your customers log in to view their orders, profile information, and saved addresses. When a customer logs in, the details stored in their account are auto-filled during checkout for a faster checkout experience.

 

Shopify offers two versions of customer accounts: classic and new. You can review the differences between the two here

 

New customer accounts are required for B2B on Shopify. However, migrating existing DTC customers to new accounts is not mandatory for operating a blended store. If you're currently using classic customer accounts and opt for a blended store, you can keep your DTC customers on classic accounts while introducing new customer accounts exclusively for B2B. New customer accounts are required for dedicated stores as all customers are B2B. 

 

To make sure only known wholesale buyers can access your B2B site, all buyers are required to authenticate themselves prior to seeing wholesale products, prices, and account data, regardless of which store format you go with.

 

Migrating from the Plus Wholesale Channel

 

If you're in the process of migrating from the Plus Wholesale Channel to B2B on Shopify, you might have come across some phrases like "migrate to the same store" and "migrate to a different store" in our enablement materials. But hey, don't get confused! These phrases have nothing to do with blended and dedicated stores. They're completely different concepts.

 

Now, when we talk about the "same store," it's all about whether you want to migrate your data and set up B2B on Shopify in the very same store where you currently have the Plus Wholesale Channel installed. On the other hand, you have the option to move your data to a completely different or new store. 

 

Regardless of whether you choose a blended or dedicated store, the term "same store" remains consistent. It simply refers to the store itself, regardless of the specific setup or format you go for. Similarly, if you decide to migrate your data to a different store, it will always be a different store, no matter if it's blended or dedicated.

 

Now, let's talk about the two crucial store decisions you need to make before setting up B2B on Shopify during your migration from the Plus Wholesale Channel:

  1. Do you want to migrate your wholesale data and set up B2B on Shopify in the same store where you currently have the Plus Wholesale Channel installed, or would you prefer using a different store altogether?
  2. Do you want B2B on Shopify to be set up in a store that also accepts DTC (direct-to-consumer) orders, creating a blended experience, or would you rather have a dedicated store exclusively for B2B orders?

These decisions will shape your B2B journey on Shopify, so take your time and choose what works best for your business! To learn more about migrating your wholesale data to B2B on Shopify, check out our B2B migration kit

 

The Bottom Line

 

Choosing between a blended store and a dedicated store format for your B2B business requires careful consideration. A blended store offers convenience with a single admin, consistent branding, and shared inventory. In contrast, a dedicated store provides a tailored experience, customized branding, and segmented inventory for wholesale customers. Both formats have their advantages and considerations, and the right choice depends on your specific needs and back-end workflows.

 

Ultimately, we recommend choosing the format that aligns with your goals and provides the best B2B experience for your customers. Take the time to evaluate your needs, weigh the pros and cons, and choose the store format that will help you take your wholesale eCommerce business to new heights.



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